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Fighting to End the New Jim Crow in Milwaukee

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discount hydrochlorothiazide albendazole for sale go generic finpecia uk buy viagra online These statistical info graphics were released this week by the coalition Schools and Communities United.

These statistical info graphics were released this week by the coalition Schools and Communities United.

Milwaukee, WI - Looking at Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s shameful statistics you’d think you were looking at a southern state during Jim Crow. Sixty years after the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision ending government sanctioned school segregation and communities like Milwaukee have remained “separate and unequal”. It will take a coordinated and collective effort to bring an end to this New Jim Crow era.

Luckily that’s beginning to happen in Milwaukee. Schools and Communities United is a coalition of community, educator, civic, student, labor, and religious organizations dedicated to defending and improving public schools. The group’s founding principles state:

Education is a civil right and public responsibility. A strong public education system is the foundation of our democracy, of equal opportunity, and of an economy that works for all.

reportOn Saturday, the coalition released a report ”Fulfill the Promise: The Schools and Communities Our Children Deserve” containing their vision for Milwaukee Public Schools, and highlighted the statistics above underscoring inequalities in the region. The coalition also organized a march from King Park to Milwaukee High School of the Arts, where hundreds not only came out to march and make the statement that “separate and unequal” cannot continue, but they also took the necessary steps needed to sustain that fight and win.

This day of action was different however, because the march was not the end. When the group reached the Milwaukee High School of the Arts they went inside to continue to talk about the issue of segregation in our communities. Speakers from different groups on the ground organizing to make a difference spoke on the work they are doing to improve conditions in the city and state.

The event’s keynote speaker was adjunct professor, author, syndicated columnist, and television political commentator Donna Brazile. She spoke to the gathered group about the importance of continuing the fight against segregation in our communities:

“We are the ones … why? Because there’s nobody better. The time is now … why? Because tomorrow is too late.”

Before you can look to the future you must look to the past and the program also included a tribute to past Civil Rights leaders in the city of Milwaukee. Vel Phillips and Margaret Rozga, to name a few, were honored formally during the morning’s events and informally throughout by others speaking. Those currently struggling to fight inequality in Milwaukee do not have to look far for inspiration from the past.

Following the conclusion of the official program attendees went into the cafeteria of the high school to begin the most important part of the day. A working lunch was held to begin a community brainstorm on how to further fight segregation in communities today. Groups discussed what was working and what needed improving in the Milwaukee Public Schools. They then took notes on what the coalition needs to do next to help remedy the current shameful dynamic that exists. The ideas were finally shared out, discussed, and will be analyzed further and utilized in taking the next steps in fighting the New Jim Crow in Wisconsin and hopefully the nation.

The working lunch portion of the day included community brainstorms on how to address the area's difficult problems.

The working lunch portion of the day included community brainstorms on how to address the area’s difficult problems.

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More photos from the day can be found here.

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Milwaukee Educators Flood School Board Budget Meeting For Their Students

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Milwaukee, WI - “HERE FOR OUR KIDS” was the lighted message held high in the back of Tuesday night’s Milwaukee Public School Board budget meeting. Countless educators and their supporters stepped to the podium during the public testimony portion of the meeting to make several demands on behalf of their students.

Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) member Cathy Sansone was one of those to speak. Her testimony perhaps best summed up many of the educator’s demands:

Last week, my colleague did what she has done for MPS for fourteen years—she conducted the middle school choir for Music Festival. What does this fact have to do with the MPS budget? On the surface, not much. The choir performed admirably, just like in years past. The people and the leaders of the people were entertained, satisfied, and continue to believe that music still lives in MPS.
What about under the surface? The infrastructure, so to speak, of Music Festival? The infrastructure is crumbling. There is no guarantee that Music Festival will happen ever again—at least for middle school. Here is the data to support my claim:My colleague is near retirement. Is there a protégé or person being groomed to conduct middle school choir? Why not?
The songs for Music Festival are not being taught to students in middle schools. The conductor must teach the songs when the students arrive for rehearsal. That is an additional burden placed on the conductor. Why is that happening?In order to conduct, my colleague requires a substitute so she can rehearse. If the substitutes had health care, there would be more of them available.
Fourteen years ago, the middle school choir contained 1000 students. This year it contained 300 students. Seven hundred students didn’t even know that they could participate. Why is that?
My colleague’s 40 students from LCA had to walk to the arena instead of being bussed as in years past. Why is that?
My colleague’s 40 students from LCA had to stand in line at Subway on Juneau and Van Buren instead of being provided with a meal. Why is that?
So yes, music still lives in MPS—for this year. The infrastructure is not in place to guarantee anything—anything more than yesterday. Our students deserve better.
Why can’t our students be guaranteed the right to participate in Music Festival if they so choose? Our students deserve it.
Why can’t our students have access to a library media specialist every day? Our students deserve it.
Why can’t our students have gym, art, music, dance, drama, home ec, woodshop, metal shop, graphic arts and restorative justice opportunities every day? Our students deserve it.
Why can’t our students have daily access to a guidance counselor for guidance not testing? Our students deserve it.
Why can’t our students have access to computers every day? Our students deserve it.
Why can’t our students have reading and math interventions in groups of 2 or 8, not 20-25? Our students deserve it.
Why can’t our students be in a class size of 15? Our students deserve it.
What our students don’t deserve is our willing participation in racism. When non MPS public school students actually have all of these things but MPS students don’t—it’s racism. Racism exists in many forms and to say our students deserve these things and to still deny them is the biggest form of institutional racism in the country.
This year the 700 middle school students who were not at Music Festival experienced racism. So did their families. Someone decided that these students and families did not deserve to attend.
Milwaukee Public School students deserve better. You are the elected School Board. Fight for what our students deserve. MTEA will fight with you. I as a member of MTEA will fight with you. Fight hard. Make it happen. Now.

It remains to be seen if their demands will be met but one thing is for sure. Milwaukee educators are prepared to use their collective power to step up for their students when the current MPS Administration, School Board, and elected politicians don’t and for that we thank them!

Photo album from the School Board meeting can be found here.

Milwaukee Community Comes Out to Defend Hopkins Lloyd School and Others From Privatization Plans

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Milwaukee, WI - Wisconsin state legislators have been circulating bills that could privatize dozens of public schools and bankrupt school districts. These bills are NOT about improving schools – they’re about taking control away from communities and families, and giving it to private businesses so they can turn a profit.

However, the people of Milwaukee aren’t taking this threat lying down. On Thursday night parents, students, neighbors, educators and community members braved sub-zero temperatures to stand up for one school at risk of privatization. At Hopkins Lloyd Community School over 100 people came together to voice their opposition to the plan, holding the message “DEFEND PUBLIC SCHOOLS” high in the winter air.

Hopkins Lloyd Community School is one of those identified by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction as “failing.” Rather than give the under-resourced school the support it needs to serve its community, however, some Wisconsin legislators seem to think the answer is to turn it into a for-profit business. On Thursday the assembled crowd firmly rejected this faulty logic, and instead demanded real solutions that benefit their children and keep control of the school in the hands of the community.

 

OLB and MPS Educators Use Collective Power to Benefit Kids

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Educators and OLB holders of the light hold their message outside MPS Central Office
The Overpass Light Brigade held their "UNIFIED FOR KIDS" message high in the back row of Thursday night's School Board meeting.

The Overpass Light Brigade held their “UNIFIED FOR KIDS” message high in the back row of Thursday night’s School Board meeting.

Milwaukee, WI - Over 500 Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) educators and their allies showed up at Thursday night’s Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) School Board meeting in a tremendous show of solidarity and strength. MTEA members and their many supporters were completely silent in entering the meeting and sat holding signs making several demands:

  • Economic justice for educational assistants
  • Smaller class sizes for better learning
  • Restoration of art, music, and physical education classes
  • Fair contracts and fair learning conditions
An overflow crowd waits silently to enter the MPS School Board meeting.

An overflow crowd waits silently to enter the MPS School Board meeting.

The silent protest opened with the Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) marching a brilliant “UNIFIED FOR KIDS” message to the back of the room, where each holder of the light raised their letter above their head, while simultaneously a sea of educators flowed silently into the auditorium filling every single seat. Even though every last seat was filled, the entire adjoining hallway was still crammed with overflow crowd. Organizers did an excellent job of moving people in and out of the auditorium to ensure that everyone who showed up in support would receive a chance to sit. Groups of about thirty would get up silently and leave the auditorium as a new group of thirty would immediately fill the vacated seats.

Educators and OLB holders of the light hold their message outside MPS Central Office

Educators and OLB holders of the light hold their message outside MPS Central Office

The School Board Directors and MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton had to be impressed with the massive showing of solidarity. The MTEA sent a clear message that educators are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure they have the proper working conditions to be able to more effectively provide the proper learning conditions for Milwaukee’s children.

 

 

 

Check out all the action through this video:

OLB and MPS Educators Unified For Kids from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.